Navigating the Remaining 20%: The Importance of Strategy in Investment Success

Woody Allen’s famous quote, “80 percent of success is just showing up,” holds particular relevance in the world of investing. Over the past decade, the S&P 500 has delivered substantial returns, compounding at about 15% annually. As a result, investors have experienced significant rewards by simply participating in the market. Read more about S&P 500 10Y return

However, showing up is only the beginning. To truly succeed in the world of investing, one must navigate the remaining 20%, which often poses a more significant challenge. 

In this article, we will explore the importance of strategy in investment success and discuss how to tackle the remaining 20% of the journey.

The First 80%: Showing Up

The Power of Passive Investing

For many investors, the first step towards success has been participating in passive investment strategies, such as index funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that track the performance of major market indices like the S&P 500. By simply “showing up” and investing in these broad market vehicles, investors have been able to ride the wave of market growth and benefit from compounding returns over time.

The Role of Diversification

Another aspect of “showing up” in investing is ensuring proper diversification across different asset classes and sectors. By spreading investments across various areas of the market, investors can mitigate risk and capture growth opportunities in different segments of the economy. This diversification has been critical in helping investors participate in the market’s overall growth and achieve the first 80% of success.

The Remaining 20%: Navigating the Challenges

Active Investment Strategies

While passive investment strategies have proven successful in capturing market growth, the remaining 20% of success often requires more active management and decision-making. This might involve researching individual stocks, identifying undervalued assets, or developing a more nuanced understanding of market trends and economic indicators. Active investment strategies can be challenging but are often essential in navigating the more complex aspects of investing and achieving long-term success.

Risk Management

Another crucial component of the remaining 20% is effective risk management. This involves understanding the potential risks associated with different investment strategies and taking steps to mitigate those risks through diversification, rebalancing, or other techniques. By effectively managing risk, investors can protect their portfolios from significant losses and ensure they can continue to participate in the market’s growth over the long term.

Emotional Discipline

One of the most significant challenges in investing is maintaining emotional discipline in the face of market fluctuations and financial news. Emotional discipline is crucial in avoiding impulsive decisions based on fear or greed, which can negatively impact an investor’s portfolio. By maintaining a long-term perspective and sticking to a well-defined investment strategy, investors can navigate the emotional challenges associated with the remaining 20% of investment success.

Continuous Learning and Adaptation

The world of investing is constantly evolving, and the most successful investors are those who continuously learn and adapt to new information and market conditions. This might involve staying informed about changes in the global economy, regulatory environments, and industry trends. By staying adaptable and receptive to new information, investors can better navigate the complexities of the remaining 20% of investment success.

Seeking Professional Advice

For many investors, navigating the remaining 20% of investment success may involve seeking the guidance and expertise of financial professionals. Financial advisors, wealth managers, and other investment professionals can provide valuable insights and tailored advice to help investors make informed decisions and develop effective strategies for managing their portfolios. By leveraging professional expertise, investors can better tackle the challenges associated with the more complex aspects of investing and work towards achieving their long-term financial goals.

Regular Portfolio Rebalancing

Another key aspect of navigating the remaining 20% is regularly reviewing and rebalancing your investment portfolio. As market conditions change and investments perform differently over time, it is essential to reassess your portfolio’s allocation and rebalance as needed to maintain your desired level of risk and return. Regular portfolio rebalancing not only helps to manage risk but also ensures that your investments remain aligned with your financial goals and objectives.

Setting Realistic Expectations

Finally, it is essential to set realistic expectations when it comes to investing. While the past decade has seen impressive growth in the S&P 500, it is crucial to recognize that market conditions can change, and past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. By setting realistic expectations, investors can maintain a long-term perspective and avoid the temptation to chase short-term gains or make impulsive decisions based on temporary market fluctuations.


While Woody Allen’s quote highlights the importance of showing up in achieving success, the world of investing requires more than just participation to truly excel. Navigating the remaining 20% of investment success involves a combination of active investment strategies, effective risk management, emotional discipline, and continuous learning and adaptation.

By embracing these strategies and focusing on the more complex aspects of investing, individuals can not only participate in the market’s growth but also maximize their investment success over the long term. Ultimately, the most successful investors are those who recognize that showing up is just the beginning and that achieving long-term success requires dedication, discipline, and a strategic approach to managing their portfolios.